This Week in Logistics News (February 2 – 8)

logistics newsThe Patriots have done it again, winning their third Super Bowl in five years, and sixth since the turn of the century. This was certainly not the game most people expected; with two high-powered offenses, most football fans were excited for a shoot-out. Instead, the Patriots defense shut down the second highest scoring offense in the league, holding the Rams to a Super Bowl record low 3 points. This win puts the Patriots in the running as the single greatest sports dynasty, especially considering free agency and the salary cap era. For the city of Boston, it meant handling the logistics of yet another Duck Boat parade through the city. Boston estimated there were well over a million fans lining the streets, which makes for a serious logistical headache. But, as I’ve said here (many) times before, it is the type of logistical headache that people don’t seem to mind. And now, on to this week’s logistics news.

Amazon has been pretty forward looking with some of their delivery strategies and patents. The company is at it again, this time looking to partner with public transit systems that are losing riders to ride-sharing apps. According to a patent Amazon received last week, public buses can be turned into mobile delivery stations. According to the patent, a customer can enter an address or area, and the system will give a list of bus stops in that area. The customer then selects a bus stop and is given a list of time frames to choose from; these timeframes will only include buses that have been fitted with a removable delivery module carrying the package. The customer simply has to meet the bus at the stop and retrieve their package. Not surprisingly, Amazon has been pushing for more investments in public transportation.

Amazon has also shown a lot of interest in autonomous vehicles over the last few years. The company is now hauling cargo in autonomous trucks down sections of the I-10 interstate. Amazon is using self-driving trucks developed by Embark, which integrates its self-driving systems into Peterbilt semis instead of building their own trucks. There has been an uptick in interest in autonomous trucks as the driver shortage continues to grow. The Embark trucks were spotted driving down I-10 with Amazon trailers; Embark and Amazon both declined to comment when pressed on details of any partnerships. But, as interest and demand grow for autonomous trucks, I expect we’ll more from this combination.

Last week, I wrote an article that highlighted some of the initiatives that can lead to supply chain sustainability. Aside from being better for the environment, sustainability initiatives can also save companies a lot of money. According to a new report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a coalition of major corporations including Walmart, Target, Kellogg, Dell, The LEGO Group, and more than 100 others reduced the combined carbon emissions of their supply chains by 633 million tons of carbon dioxide and saved $19.3 billion for their companies in 2018. The 115 members made disclosure requests to more than 11,000 suppliers asking for information related to climate change, deforestation, and water use. From the 5,600 responses, 43 percent confirmed they ban existing suppliers based on environmental factors, and an additional 30 percent are considering this practice for the near future.

Online grocery continues to grow, and customers continue to expect fast delivery service. Ahold Delhaize USA has announced a partnership with Deliv to provide same-day grocery delivery from Giant Food Stores and Martin’s supermarket chains. Under the partnership, Ahold’s PeaPod Digital Labs e-commerce arm (the grandfather of grocery home delivery) will work with Deliv to enable same-day deliveries in areas where only next-day service is available. The pilot program will kick off in Willow Grove, PA with one-hour delivery windows available. Plans call for Deliv same-day service to become available at more Giant/Martin’s stores in the coming months, as well as at other Ahold Delhaize USA supermarket banners offering home delivery via Peapod.

In 2018, Ingka Group, the parent company of Ikea, made a bold pledge: to deliver every item worldwide by electric vehicle within the next seven years. The plan started with five target markets that would make the switch by 2020: New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, and Shanghai. The company has already met this goal in Shanghai, as all home deliveries are now made by electric vehicles. Ikea followed its plan to build out local partnerships to source vehicles and enough charging infrastructure to make the shift possible. A major part of the change was the company’s partnership with DST, which leases out electric vehicles and vans. The partnership allowed Ikea to secure the vehicles faster, helping to reach its goal early.

Speaking of electric vehicles, DHL Express is rolling out a new fleet of 63 electric delivery vans in the United States. This is all part of the company’s goal to reduce logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050. The company will launch the first 30 battery-powered NGEN-1000 vehicles from Workhorse Group in San Francisco, while the other 33 will be deployed at various locations throughout the country later this year. The vehicles will have a 100-mile range on a single charge and have 1,008 cubic feet of storage capacity. DHL already has a variety of alternative fuel vehicles in the US and has set a target of operating 70% of first- and last-mile delivery services with what it considers “clean transport” modes by 2025.

Ocado has made the headlines recently as it continues to develop automated fulfillment centers and sell its technology to food retailers that want to enable online delivery. Earlier this week, a fire broke out at the company’s flagship automated distribution center in Andover, southern England. Ocado said the fire had broken out on one of its grids of robots and operations had been suspended. The Andover plant can process 65,000 orders a week and is the company’s first fully autonomous warehouse. The fire affected a proportion of the mechanical handling equipment at the fulfillment center, causing the company to suspend operations until further notice.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend and the song of the week, Aerosmith’s Same Old Song and Dance.

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